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BoardGameGeek News

To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, please contact BGG News editor W. Eric Martin via email – wericmartin AT gmail.com

Archive for W. Eric Martin

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New Game Round-up: Hunting Anew for the Ring, Folding Around the World, and Rebuilding Thanos

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• Old news to some, but this has been in my inbox for three months and is only now coming to light: Ares Games is working with designers Marco Maggi, Francesco Nepitello, and Gabriele Mari on a hidden movement game titled The Hunt for the Ring that pits the Nazgûl against Frodo and his companions as the latter try to move from the Shire to Rivendell. Yes, Lord of the Rings gaming experts Maggi and Nepitello have joined forces with hidden movement master Mari for what sounds like a match made in, well, Middle-earth.

Italian gaming site Gioconomicon published an illustrated overview of the game in both English and Italian in September 2016, but here's the summary for those who want it:

Quote:
In The Hunt for the Ring, one player takes the role of Frodo and his companions, who are journeying from the Shire to Rivendell, while up to four other players represent the Nazgûl who are trying to hunt down the hobbits. While traveling, Frodo and others must resist being corrupted by the Ring that he wears.

The Hunt for the Ring is a hidden movement game played in two chapters, with each chapter being played on a different game board. In the first chapter, the Frodo player attempts to move from the Shire to Bree, gaining corruption points if they fail to do so after sixteen turns. If the Frodo player succeeds, they can either record their exit point (and other game details) to play the second chapter at a later time, or they can continue immediately, with the second chapter having the Frodo player move from Bree to Rivendell. In this chapter, the Frodo player doesn't control the hobbits directly, but instead draws cards from a journey deck, with each card showing one of many paths to Rivendell.

Space Goat Productions, which has board game adaptations of both Evil Dead 2 and The Terminator already on the way, has announced its will release a board game based on the 1981 film The Howling. No details other than that a deal was made.

Heidelberger Spieleverlag will release A. J. Porfirio's Hostage Negotiator in German in Q1 2017 under the title Der Unterhändler.

• Game agent Kevin Kim says that Happy Baobab's Fold-it — a real-time game in which players try to fold a cloth to recreate the menu shown on a card revealed at the start of the round — will be released in Czech, Russian, Chinese and Scandinavian versions, and he's been talking to possible licensing partners in the U.S. as well.

Pegasus Spiele will release German-language versions of the Matagot titles Inis and Captain Sonar in Q2 2017.

Upper Deck Entertainment has announced plans for the Vs System 2PCG game line for 2017, starting with the release of Vs System 2PCG: Legacy in March 2017, with this being a two hundred card set that includes characters such as Captain Britain, Psylocke, Mister Sinister, Taskmaster, Squirrel Girl, and Elektra, along with revised Thanos main character cards (as shown below) since the original one from The Marvel Battles set was having a negative effect on tournament play.

Over the rest of 2017, UDE plans to release at least three more Vs System 2PCG sets, two based on the Marvel Comics universe (with one of those containing four hundred cards) and one based on a different license.

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Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:00 pm
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SPIEL 2016 XIX: Guilds, IKAN, Creature College, Gobbit Angry Birds, and The Game: Extreme

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• Yes, I have still a few more game overview videos from SPIEL 2016, such as this one in which designer Steffen Benndorf explains The Game: Extreme from Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag. What's more, he talks about his design philosophy in general and how practically every publisher in Germany refused to publish Qwixx.





• Setting up interviews at SPIEL 2016 can be an interesting challenge. I didn't have many open slots remaining when Giochi Uniti contacted me about interviewing designer Christian Giove about Guilds, and Giove was arriving by train in the middle of the fair, so in the end I caught pretty much right when he arrived at the show and he had to jump on camera immediately. No rest for the creative!





• French publisher/distributor Morning (né Morning Players) had a few recently released and upcoming games on display at SPIEL 2016, two of which I actually recorded previews for at Gen Con 2016. Still need to post those, too! Here, though, is an overview of IKAN, in which one player builds a labyrinth while others watch, after which the labyrinth is hidden and players have a limited amount of time to find the items they need, locate the treasure, and slay the monster that awaits...somewhere.





• In a world filled with pattern-recognition+slapping games, Gobbit Angry Birds from Morning is another one. I need to do an overview of these types of games at some point as I tend to love them, but other players fit them hit or miss and examining their differences might prove interesting.





Orhan Ertughrul's Creature College from his own Happy Otter Games was listed on the SPIEL 2015 Preview as an item being, well, previewed at that show, but I didn't know it would be present at SPIEL 2016. Turns out that I saw Orhan looking friendly and inviting in the HOG booth after I filmed something else nearby, so I took a seat with him to get an overview of this game. Being friendly and inviting will do that for you sometimes!

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Fri Dec 16, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Heroes by the Dozen, Haikus by the Chosen, and Heaviness from Brazilians

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I email myself tons of notes and links, partly because my memory is bad and I need to have something in writing in order to take action and partly because I see so many games that I need breadcrumbs to follow later for these posts. Sometimes, though, those breadcrumbs lie for months without being picked up again. Time to finally look at some of the titles that caught my eye in the first half of 2016, then went untouched:

• I ran across Twelve Heroes from Takashi Sakaue, Masato Uesugi, and Product Arts in April 2016, for example, and the game was available at Gen Con 2016, but I forgot to look at it more closely during that show. Maybe next year? Especially since Catch Up Games will release a French version of Twelve Heroes in 2017. Here's an overview:

Quote:
In the two-player game Twelve Heroes, players are landlords who lead twelve units and aim to obtain land cards which are located in three regions. These land cards give you victory points, and the first player who has gained seven points wins.

Before the game begins, players choose twelve unit cards to construct a deck of their own. On your turn, you execute four phases: control, maintenance, income, and military. Military is the most important phase in a turn, during which you can muster, deploy, or move your units. You can also gain food. You consume action points to execute these actions. You need food to muster units and activate them. Managing food and maximizing synergies of units are the keys to winning the game.

• In March 2016, following the fulfillment of its Kickstarter campaign, Arcana Games released Blade and Brush from Eugene Fasano, "a simple yet intellectual game of shared storytelling through the medium of haiku". In more detail: "Players take on the roles of unique, self-defined characters such as wandering monks, plucky adventurers, and questing warriors. Throughout the game, as the characters journey, they encounter a series of dilemmas. Using poems to solve problems, help people, and get into trouble, the players must collaborate and compete to weave the most entertaining story."

The Teind, in which you control a fairy faction, is the only game I've seen that uses baby teeth for currency, but publisher Nacho Head Games has vanished from The Game Crafter, which seems to have been the only outlet for this company. Checking with the designer to see whether the baby teeth might pop up somewhere else.

Mothership Game Studios plans to debut in 2017 with Rick Perez' Outer Gods and Interlopers, another take on the "cultists trying to complete rituals and bring all-powerful gods to Earth" genre, with players being either cultist or investigator and trying to complete/foil rituals by adding components from their hand to what's being attempted during the current round.

Gamecraft is a title in the works from Felipe Biscaro and Brazilian publisher FunBox Jogos that artist/art director Luis Francisco describes as "HEAVY". Here's an overview of gameplay, with more details from Francisco in this BGG thread:

Quote:
Create the video game of your dreams! In Gamecraft you are in charge of a digital games studio, contracting employees with differing expertise and competing to find out who is the best game developer from Games S/A.

Start small, upgrade your studio and crew, buy improvements, and train your professional squad with new abilities. Choose which production areas to focus on because that's the only way to develop games by the deadline, create fandom, and get the best ratings in game magazines and at events. Gamecraft is a worker placement game with different levels of workers, many game combinations to create, and great visuals. Live three years of a game studio developing from small to complex games!
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Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:00 pm
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SPIEL 2016 XVIII: LudiCreations — Alexandria, IUNU, Long Live the Queen, and Mr. Cabbagehead's Garden Game

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So I was cranking along with the game overview videos from SPIEL 2016, publishing them at a decent clip right up to the point that I left for BGG.CON 2016 in mid-November, then I fell through a hole and forgot about the dozen or so that still remained. Thankfully, most of these videos are for titles that haven't yet been released, which means they still qualify as preview videos. Yay!

Today we have a quartet of previews for games coming from LudiCreations, two of which originated as self-published designs from Todd Sanders' Air and Nothingness Press, as was the case with They Who Were 8, which LudiCreations released in a new version at SPIEL 2016. Sanders' Mr. Cabbagehead's Garden Game is a solitaire game that mimics the look of a 19th century Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog.





• The other Sanders title coming from LudiCreations is IUNU, with "Iunu" being the original name of one of the oldest cities in ancient Egypt, a city that the Greeks renamed Heliopolis. In this set-collection game, 2-4 players return to those ancient times when everyone worried about collecting the right cards to make a name for themselves.





Alexandria from Babis Giannios has an entrancing setting: Players are characters in the Royal Library of Alexandria at the moment that it's started to burn, and each character is concerned about different things that will drive their actions during the subsequent game. One might try to help the others, whether they want help or not, while another wants to save particular rooms. The library burns over the course of the game, and when you all perish in the final room, whoever has done the best job will win (but still be dead).





Long Live the Queen, first released in Japan by Circle 3D6 in 2014 as Save the Queen, is a two-player game in which you are neither saving the queen nor helping her live a long time, but are instead trying to place your own butt on the throne as her successor. To do this, you need to collect might, wisdom, and wealth tokens — three of each — or else assassinate the other candidate, who happens to be your sister and a fellow princess. Them's the breaks, sis!

Long Live the Queen will be released in two versions, one using the original Japanese art and another using dieselpunk art and a setting to match. Why two versions? Because the LudiCreations team likes dieselpunk and wanted to place this game in that setting, while also acknowledging that some percentage of the audience would want the original look. Which one will prove more popular? Give us twelve months for publication and sales, and then we'll have the data on hand.

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Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: More Power for King of Tokyo, The Return of Targi, and More Battling Bots

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• Following the release of a revised King of Tokyo base game in 2016, IELLO will release similarly revised King of Tokyo: Power Up! in April 2017, with this second edition including evolution cards for the six monsters in the second edition of King of Tokyo, the two monsters removed from the first edition of King of Tokyo (Cyber Bunny and Kraken), and the Pandakaï monster included in this item.

Evolution cards give the monsters new powers during play, with each monster having their own unique deck of eight cards. To start the game, players draw two evolution cards, then discard one. Whenever they roll three hearts during play, they draw two and keep one, in addition to using the hearts for whatever else they want. Players can play an evolution card whenever they want to gain the power, with some powers being one-shot effects and others being permanent.

• In other IELLO news, the publisher normally releases titles only in French and English, but at SPIEL 2016 it debuted some of its line in German, including King of Tokyo, Kanagawa and Oceanos. These releases were so well received at the show that those three titles, along with Sea of Clouds and The Mysterious Forest, have now been picked up for release in Germany by distributor Hutter Trade, with the titles to be available as of mid-December 2016.

• The English-language rights for Andreas Steiger's Targi have reverted back to KOSMOS, so Thames & Kosmos, that company's North American branch, has added a new printing of Targi to its release schedule for early 2018, which T&K's marketing coordinator Lili DeSisto says was their first open slot. As for Targi: Die Erweiterung, the expansion that debuted solely in German at SPIEL 2016, DeSisto says that they're still making plans for 2018.

Gekido: Bot Battles takes a Fel Barros and Romulo Marques design about young dragons battling in the stomach of their father, originally released by Brazlian publisher Ace Studios in 2014, and transforms it into a futuristic arena-battle game with giant plastic bots. Here's an overview of the game, due out in May 2017:

Quote:
In the not-too-distant future, the most entertaining sport in the world requires killer reflexes, a passion to succeed, and a degree in science or engineering. Bot battling is all the rage, and Gekido: Bot Battles gives 2-4 players the chance to enter the arena and face off in 30-minute fights. Each round, the bots lock onto a target, then roll dice to execute attacks. Through cunning moves and swift strikes, players can activate secret powers in the arena and eliminate the competition. The last bot standing takes home the electric glory!


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Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:00 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Prepare to Abandon the Planet with a Thousand Games in Tow

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• I just finished reading Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, so the theme of Don Eskridge's Abandon Planet from his own newly formed Orange Machine Games is an eye-grabber: Escape from Earth before a meteor apocalypse kills you. To not die, you need to collect resources (or steal them) to build a rocket and partner with someone else in order to launch in time without being stolen from or having your stuff destroyed. (KS link) (Short take on Seveneves: Impressive overall, aside from multiple chunks that feel like excerpts from a college research project.)

Way of the Fighter from Benjamin Yamada, Soda Pop Miniatures, and Ninja Division aims to give you the feel of an arcade fighting game in a card and dice game, with separate Super and Turbo starter sets having five different fighters each, with miniatures being available separately as well as two character supplemental fighter packs and many other things at which you can throw money. (KS link)

• Speaking of throwing money at things, how about that Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5, eh? (KS link)

• While not collecting quite as much moolah as the previous item, Yōkai Quest from Nicolás Díaz, Alejandro Pineda, and Zenit Miniatures has chibi-style miniatures, so it's collected a decent amount. As for the gameplay, it contains chibi-style miniatures. (KS link)

SlugFest Games is headed back to The Red Dragon Inn once again, this time for standalone expansion #6, Villains, with four new characters headed to the pub for a rough time. (KS link)

• I don't know much about Tony Chen's Iberian Rails from Monsoon Publishing, but I admire the spirit of a train conductor who is clearly concerned with getting things done and cannot be bothered with little things like passenger safety or collateral damage. (KS link)

Legends Untold seems like a false promise of a title unless all of the players keep their mouths shut while playing, but I don't think that's what Inspiring Games has in mind for this co-op card-based adventure game. (KS link)

• I'm not exactly sure how The World Council from Lokson Ken Leung and Creative Shit works, but I do know that you have a country card — a generic country card, mind you, such as "Totalitarian State" — and if you achieve the goals of your country first, you win. Beyond that, I'm throwing darts at a game mechanism generator. (KS link)

• Jan Willem van Dijk and Gaudete Games are back on Kickstarter for a second go at Clash d'Ardèche, in which the players run campgrounds near the river Ardèche in France and need to complete a secret mission in order to win. (KS link)

• Mike Berry and Ryan Iler's Quodd Heroes from Wonderment Games presents miniatures far different from what's normally found in games on KS as the heroes are cubes — not flat cubes as found in many Eurogames, but cubes with personality and flair. Each cube is a unique hero, with the owner of the cube assigning abilities to five of the cube's six sides, while the sixth side possesses a power unique to that hero.

In the game — which has scenarios with quests, races, team challenges and more — you move by flipping your block, then activating any board effects in your landing space, then activating the ability on your uppermost face. The game includes items, food, pets, runes, and other items that affect gameplay. (KS link)




Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Sun Dec 11, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Fighting Aliens, Adventurers and Freaks, Then Waking in a Coma Ward

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Andrew Parks, designer of Core Worlds and co-designer of Star Trek: Attack Wing, has a new title coming from his own Quixotic Games in 2017, a big game for 1-4 players that takes 1-3 hours to play. Here's a rundown of Dungeon Alliance, which Parks plans to launch on Kickstarter in January 2017:

Quote:
In the days before the Void consumed much of the Old World, there were stalwart humans, elves, dwarves, and gnomes who banded together to invade the deep places of the earth. These heroes forged unbreakable alliances in search of knowledge, treasure, and glory. Rival adventuring parties would often descend into the same dungeon, and these companies fought one another as fiercely as they battled the monsters that lurked behind every dark corner. 'These were daring times, when nothing in the world was considered more sacred than the oath that bound those who shared the dangers of the pit together. This was the age of the Dungeon Alliance.

Dungeon Alliance is a deck-building, dungeon-crawling miniatures adventure game that allows players to send 1-4 different teams of adventurers into perilous dungeons in search of experience and treasure. At the start of the game, each player drafts their own team of four heroes (from the 17 included in the game) and uses tactical movement and card play to overcome the dungeon's monsters and treasures. Each player starts with a unique twelve-card starting deck that includes the starting cards from all four of their heroes.

Rival teams may compete with one another to slay monsters, or even battle one another for complete domination. As each team of heroes overcomes monsters and challenges, they earn experience point (XP) tokens that they can spend to purchase new cards for their alliance decks. Once spent, XP tokens are flipped face down and kept until the end of the game. When the sun greets those who emerge from the pit, the alliance that has accrued the most XP claims the mantle of victory.

• Another title hitting Kickstarter in the first half of 2017 is Danny Lott's Coma Ward from Everything Epic Games, with this design taking you into unexplored spaces that you would be happy never to contemplate in real life:

Quote:
Sterile, blinding whiteness — coupled with deafening, repetitious beeps — shocks you awake. Your heart rate slows and your breathing steadies as you realize you are in a hospital. You glance around, finding your room empty. You read your identifying armband to see a name you don't recognize. As your bare feet smack to the cold tile floor and you steady your wobbling body, you feel the foreign presence of absence. You are alone…

In Coma Ward, players are patients who have awoken in an abandoned, yet still functioning hospital with no memory and no idea of what is happening. Patients must search the hospital for clues and necessities. In their search, patients may find unspeakably terrifying things.

Each time you play, you explore an ever-changing hospital as you search for the clues to your identity and the cause of the environment's unsettling emptiness. Balance your ever worsening terror and neurosis while monitoring your health and physical attributes. Remember to stay close to those who awoke with you because the shadows of the empty hospital can destroy your already fragile psyche. Once all the clues have been discovered, the true horror begins. Players discover what is actually happening and find out who they can trust — if anyone — and how to win.

Each playing is a unique phenomenon that introduces diverse and dynamic rules. Coma Ward is a mature game with themes of violence, absolution, distrust, gore, and traumatic incidence. Player discretion is advised.

• Getting a jump on its planning for SPIEL 2017, Finnish publisher Lautapelit.fi has announced three titles with Q4 2017 release dates, starting with the "competitive urban tactical combat board game" Invasion: Free State from Teemu Vilén. In this modular game, 2-4 players compete as alien and resistance factions that head to combat in the suburbs of Annapolis.

Nations: The Dice Game – Unrest by Nina and Rustan Håkansson includes eight new nations and 36 new progress cards for use with the base game, as well as four modules that are used together to add new elements to gameplay, such as bonus tiles that are available only in one round, "pass first" tiles that provide more benefits, and green "unrest" dice that can make rolling more hazardous.

Max Wikström's Space Freaks has you compete against up to three other players in arena combat with a team that you've assembled on your own, possibly one body part at a time. An overview:

Quote:
In Space Freaks, you are team manager of one of the fighting teams sponsored by powerful megacorporations. Your task is to combine different body parts to design the perfect freak, then lead your team of freaks to victory. The arena is controlled by the arena master, who each turn changes the conditions in the arena. To succeed, you need to complete tasks given to you by the viewers — or just destroy the other freaks and their base. But don't worry because in Space Freaks everyone wins, either by managing the winning team or by becoming a (body)part of the next winning team!

In more detail, during the game you build your own freaks, one body part at a time, in addition to building turrets, bunkers and droids to aid your team. Your team sponsor might also aid you in the form of items, special actions, or even alien marauders. You score points during play by fulfilling tasks given to your team by the viewers, killing competing freaks, destroying an opposing base, or controlling the center of the arena.


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Fri Dec 9, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Constructing Highways, Erecting Pyramids, Snapping Pics, and ReCURRRing Cards

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I have failed in my attempt to create a convention preview for the Tokyo Game Market on December 11, 2016, starting the list in late October following SPIEL 2016 but then getting busy with coverage of that convention and other things. That said, I have added a few titles to the TGM Preview — and to the BGG database in general — so let's look at them:

• The designers at Saien, a.k.a., Team Saien, have what they described to me at TGM in May 2016 as a somewhat more intricate and involved Abluxxen — and given my love of Abluxxen — I was intrigued. We played a couple of rounds on the prototype at TGM, and it was like learning Abluxxen all over again as I had no concept of what I was doing and which cards were going where and what I might be playing into and how to close the deal when I had only a few cards left in hand. In short, I loved it and am bummed to be missing out on TGM this time, but them's the breaks.

In any case, here's a rough overview of the gameplay in ReCURRRing:

Quote:
In ReCURRRing, players try to get rid of cards in hand. The deck consists of 57 cards: one 1, two 2s, etc. up to nine 9s, along with a dozen Rs; with fewer then five players, some of these cards are removed from play. A 1 is the strongest single card, but any pair beats a single with two 2s being the highest pair; Rs are the weakest cards.

After dealing out the deck, the starting player lays out a single card. The next player can pass (in which case they're out for the remainder of the round) or they can play one or two cards that rank higher than what was played; if they do, they take the previously played card(s) in hand. Each subsequent player can either pass or play a higher set of cards of cards, but a set that includes at most one card more than what was played most recently. Once all players pass, the cards in the center are removed from play, and whoever played most recently leads in the new round.

When a player runs out of cards, the round ends. Players play multiple rounds until a player reaches the target score.




• Speaking of Saien, an older game of theirs — Dazzle — will be published in a new edition in Q2/Q3 2017 by Pegasus Spiele, which in 2016 republished Saien's Khmer as Elements. In the two-player game Dazzle, players each receive a deck of 18 cards, with the cards each having value 1-3 in one of four suits. On a turn, a player picks two cards from their hand and shows them to their opponent. The opponent keeps one of these cards for themself, while the other cards is placed in a points pile for that suit. When players run out of cards in their decks — and not all cards are used in each game — whoever has the highest score in a suit collects all of the points for that suit. Whoever has the highest score wins.

• Not reading Japanese doesn't stop me from gamely trying to figure out what might be going on in a design, as with Tokyo Highway from designers Naotaka Shimamoto and Yoshiaki Tomioka and their new publishing brand itten. Here's what I've got:

Quote:
In Tokyo Highway, players compete to place all of their cars on the road — but to do that they will first have to build the roadways!

Over the course of the game, players will construct columns of varying heights by using the 66 squat cylinders in the box, then connect those columns with sticks that serve as roadways, with the columns not necessarily being the same height when connected. Once you have a highway, you can possibly place one of your ten cars on it.




Wind the Film! from designer Saashi of publisher Saashi & Saashi has chosen a great base on which to build a game, something specific to history that I can't recall seeing used before, yet also something that ties together well with the mechanisms of the game — at least as far as I can tell given what I've been able to figure out. Here are the basics:

Quote:
Time to walk about town and take some pictures! It's the 1960s in Japan, and you have a half-size camera that lets you take half-size vertical pictures. Let's see whether you can put together good shots...

In Wind the Film!, you're trying to organize pictures on your roll so that they appear in the right order. Each player has a hand of cards, and on a turn, you'll add 1-3 cards to the front of your hand (without changing their order), move one card in your hand closer to the front, then discard as many cards from the back of your hand as the number of cards that you added. When the sunset card comes out, you can take no more pictures, and everyone scores for what's on their camera.

The cards all have numbers and colors on them, and you try to line them up in hand to score the most points possible.




• Given the release of Insider at SPIEL 2016, I hadn't expected another title from Oink Games in time for TGM, but Oink's own Jun Sasaki has delivered The Pyramid's Deadline, which like every other title in this section has an abbreviated description:

Quote:
In ancient Egypt, the king has ordered architects to his side. "Construct a glorious tomb for this eagle, and I will give a reward to whoever has created the largest tomb. Fail to complete the tomb by the time that the eagle dies, however, and it's the death penalty for you on the spot."

Your challenge in The Pyramid's Deadline is to create a tomb larger than any other player's without getting so greedy that you'll be rewarded with death instead. This game combines puzzles, bargaining, and pieces rolled on die that you'll use to build pyramids.


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Thu Dec 8, 2016 1:00 pm
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Restoration Games to Release New Versions of Stop Thief, Top Race and Dragonmaster

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In mid-2016, designer Rob Daviau and attorney/designer Justin D. Jacobson joined forces to create Restoration Games, a publisher dedicated to taking games released from the 1960s through the 1990s, updating them to match modern game design standards, and re-releasing the games on today's market.

On Dec. 7, 2016, Restoration Games announced the first three titles that have been buffed up for gamers both nostalgic and new, with these titles scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2017. The highlight, at least in my eyes, is a new version of Robert Doyle's Stop Thief, first released by Parker Brothers in 1979 when I was eleven years old, a tween in spirit if not in actuality since the word didn't exist at that time.

The gist of the game is that you are all detectives who must catch a thief, but initially you know of the thief's presence only through the sounds emitted by an included electronic device. You hear alarms go off, glass breaking, footsteps across the floor: boop, boop, boop. You roll dice to move across the game board to try to catch sight of the thief, which is determined by you indicating your location in the device and the device giving you some kind of feedback. If you catch the thief, who will keep robbing as long as possible, you collect a reward; be the first to collect enough money and you win.

I ran into Daviau playtesting the updated version of Stop Thief at BGG.CON 2016, and he showed off some features of the app that they're using in place of the electronic device. This version of the game will include new modes of play, variable suspect effects, and individual movement decks to replace the dice that you used to curse when you failed to catch the thief over and over again due to poor rolls. Yes, poor rolls — that's my excuse.


Cover of the original release and logo for the new version


When a game designer discovers a solid game system, they tend to rework it again and again to deliver twists on a familiar design or to create something better based on what they've learned. Wolfgang Kramer's Tempo — his first published design in 1974 — is one such example. In that game, players were presented with six colored columns and a matching pawn at the base of each column; players also had a hand of cards, with each card showing some of the colors and a number or symbol by each color. During the game, a player would play a card and advance all of the pawns that matched the colors on that card by the indicated number of spaces. Before play started, however, players placed secret bets on which colors they thought would reach the top of the columns first, and players won money based on how well those bets paid off.

Hardly anyone knows Tempo given that the game is more than forty years old and, shall we say, less than aesthetically appealing, but Kramer has reworked this system multiple times, starting with the release of Niki Lauda's Formel 1 in 1980. Yes, a game that used racing as a mechanism wisely became a game themed around racing. More importantly players now bid for ownership of the cars that would participate in the race. No longer were you simply moving a pawn; you became a race car driver and put your own money at stake to express confidence in how you'd do. What's more, thanks to the evolution of the game board from six separate tracks to a race track that narrowed and widened, players could use their movement points to choke out others from moving, thereby wasting movement for a race car that had ended up in someone else's hands. Good stuff! Formel 1 Nürburgring, Daytona 500, Top Race, and Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix are all evolutions of that card-based racing system.

Restoration Games' version of the system — Downforce, a racing term that indicates a vehicle's negative lift, i.e., the force pushing it onto the ground to create better traction — has been created by Daviau going through all of the different variants over the years to create what the press release dubs "the most fun version possible". Players are also promised "component quality befitting its pedigree".




The final game in Restoration's intro trilogy is game #2 in the BGG database: G. W. D'Arcey's Dragonmaster, a trick-taking card game from 1981in which the dealer each round would declare what the contract was for that particular hand, e.g., "Dragonlords" in which you wanted to take no Dragonlords cards or "First and Last" in which you were penalized for taking those two tricks. Five different contracts existed in the game, and once you chose a contract as dealer, you couldn't choose it again when next you dealt.

Dragonmaster was based on the French game Barbu from the 1930s, and the new version titled Indulgence will be a game of "papal intrigue" set during the Italian Renaissance with twenty different contracts being included.


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Wed Dec 7, 2016 7:00 pm
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Game Overview: Tintas, or Five Easy Pieces (and Two That Are Much Harder to Get)

W. Eric Martin
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Abstract strategy games don't get a great deal of coverage in this space, not because I dislike them — this is true only in Bizarro World — but because it's hard to talk about them in any detail. They typically have no story, no setting, no world in which the action takes place, which means that the "action" all boils down to the movement of this piece or that over a (usually quite attractive) game board. Sure, you can say the same for all kinds of non-abstract strategy games, but it's easier to riff on diseases and zombies and fairies that collect bugs in atriums and pineapple slices being placed on ham sandwiches so that's what I spend most of my time doing.

That said, here I am now talking about Dieter Stein's Tintas, which debuted from German publisher Clemens Gerhards at SPIEL 2016. The publisher, also known as Gerhards Spiel und Design, releases nothing other than wooden games and puzzles, with these items having a fairly high price tag on them. Under one such title on BGG's SPIEL 2016 Preview, a user wrote, "Maybe the picture doesn't show all components, but 20 cones and a board for 45€? Is that correct?" Yes, indeed it is. Their titles aren't for everyone — honestly, which game is? — but the market for such specialty items definitely exists, something I learned in the early 1990s when I worked in a game store selling exquisite chess sets and beautiful wooden backgammon sets that retailed for hundreds of dollars. The game market is a diverse beast, and one should not assume that one's tastes (and budget) are universally applicable.

Tintas has a straightforward goal — collect all seven pieces of one color to win — but naturally this goal is complicated by your opponent doing the exact same thing. Each piece or set of pieces that you take allows the other player to respond in kind, and if you're stopping them from collecting the final pieces they need, well, then you're probably not collecting what you want. Lots to ponder in this quick-playing game!


In the week since I recorded this video, I realized that I had forgotten to cover one topic, namely the breakdown of how someone won the game. If no one collects all seven pieces of one color, then the winner is the player who collects at least four pieces of each of at least four colors. The game includes seven pieces of seven colors, so if all of the pieces are removed from the board — that is, if no one wins instantly by bogarting a color — then someone will win through majorities, and this secondary goal is always present in your mind.

In practice, over a dozen games the breakdown of wins has been about even between collecting all and collecting most. The threat of an opponent grabbing the last couple of tokens they need for the instant win is always forefront in mind. Those locations become hot spots on the game board, glowing in your mind with giant Xs across them as you try to figure out how to use the opponent's desire for those tokens against them. Can you lure that player to do something that looks helpful to them while actually setting you up for a better position in the long run? The answer to that question partly depends on what you've already collected since the opponent has a few glowing Xs of their own, and those intersecting landmine maps light up the tension on the board, driving you to avoid disaster and aim for the security of most, but sometimes you take the wrong step and everything ends with a bang...
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Wed Dec 7, 2016 2:00 pm
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